Being born, growing up, and flourishing in New York is not for everyone, but it is for many nonetheless – and some will be luckier than others in that journey. The son of a Puerto Rican father and an Irish mother, Wiki is one of the lucky ones who got the lottery of experiencing in the first person a city that has been immortalized in so many ways and forms in so many different media, from cinema to music – in the latter, he gives his own informed view of events. And he is as New Yorker as it is humanly possible to be; realizing this is halfway to understanding him and his verses. New York plays a really important role in everything he did and does, from being the basis for the formation of RATKING – a group inspired by both Suicide and the Wu-Tang Clan, which gave him the initial and decisive impetus for his career when he was still discovering what it was to be an adult – to the title of his debut solo album, No Mountains in Manhattan (2017), a phrase he heard in Mean Streets (1973), a Martin Scorsese film that draws on that multifaceted backdrop that is NYC.
Wiki’s ability to be the narrator of these streets (which are suffering a violent clash between those entering with no real sense of community and the usual locals being pushed out) took on more defined forms on Half God (2021), an album made in collaboration with Navy Blue, the beatmaker on duty in this endeavor that added another layer to his solid discography. Maturing after having spent a decade practicing the art of rhyming and the imminent arrival at age 30 (next October he will celebrate that round birthday) have given him the foundations to make a track like “The Business” – listen carefully to the bars and realize that there is something very universal in what he is rhyming about gentrification. And sometimes you really need to experience situations with a different maturity (and sobriety) to be able to report them properly. When he now grabs a microphone, the rapper with the now emblematic gap in his teeth does it with increasing honesty and directness (in the good New York way, let’s call it that).
Be it over beats by Sporting Life, Madlib, Kaytranada, Slauson Malone, The Alchemist, DJ Shadow, Subjxct 5 and NAH, spitting alongside MCs like Ghostface Killah, Earl Sweatshirt, Skepta (yes, there’s even an official version of “That’s Not Me” with Patrick Morales), Denzel Curry, MIKE, Your Old Droog or collaborating with musicians as diverse as King Krule, Duendita, Obongjayar, Emma-Jean Thackray and Richard Russell, the only stylistic limit for Wiki seems to be his enlightened good taste – this is the only way we can have projects like the experimental Telephonebooth, the mature Half God, the fun and uncompromising Cold Cuts and the “for the culture” EP One More in a space of two years. A catalog that already deserves (and commands) a lot of respect. Alexandre Ribeiro